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The Timbuktu School for Nomads: Across the Sahara in the Shadow of Jihad

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The Sahara: a dream-like, far away landscape of Lawrence of Arabia and Wilfred Thesiger, The English Patient and Star Wars, and home to nomadic communities whose ways of life stretch back millennia. Today it's a teeth-janglingly dangerous destination, where the threat of jihadists lurks just over the horizon. Following in the footsteps of 16th century traveller Leo African ...more
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published November 15th 2016 by Nicholas Brealey (first published September 8th 2016)
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Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Subtitled, “Across the Sahara in the Shadow of Jihad,” this book sees author Nicholas Jubber attempting to travel across the desert. In particular, he wants to follow the journey of Leo Africanius, a Sixteenth Century explorer, who travelled to the Kindgom of the Songhay in 1507. Jubber admits readily that he has long been entranced by the desert and by the nomads who live there. However, his attempts to join a caravan on a journey of his own is not well timed. The cities of North Africa were (a ...more
Jacob Overmark
Once again I´m sofa-travelling to Timbuktu, this time in the company of Nicholas Jubber.

I am green with envy, I wish I had the guts to go to a place which has been on my bucket list for more than 30 years, a place which sadly has suffered hard from circumstances.

However, this is not only about Timbuktu, but also a voyage through the Sahara and the people who surround it.
Hardships and happiness - and the consequences of demographic and climatic changes.

The traditional nomadic culture is facing d
The Sahara desert is the largest hot desert in the world. The only deserts larger than it, are the polar regions. It covers the top part of Africa and is around 3.6 million square miles in area. It hasn't always been a desert as every 41,000 years or so it changes back into grasslands before reverting to desert once again. It is harsh there too, the temperature in the hottest part of the year can reach 40 deg. C with the sand reaching 85 deg. C and the night time temperatures can drop to 13 deg. ...more
Anne Goldschrift
Joa, also wenn man sich wirklich seeehr für nordafrikanische Geschichte, Politik und Kultur interessiert, ist es sicherlich gut. Für jemanden wie mich, der sich einen tollen Reisebericht erhofft, ist es nichts: Es ist weder logisch aufgebaut, noch spannend geschrieben. Schade!
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
3-. This was frustrating. There is a great book in this subject and I believe there's a good book in this book (I could occasionally glimpse it), but one that required more patience, study and editing to create. As it is, The Timbuktu School of Nomads gives an impression that the author wanted to travel with a caravan and write about it (he admits that he was looking for a topic no-one else had written about), but as it did not come to pass, he cobbled together a story from the material he had m ...more
Chantal Lyons
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I wasn't gripped by this book, but I'm glad I read it - now I know just how little I know about the complexity of the Saharan region, in terms of the sheer multitude of tribes, cultures and battles that it has been host to. I struggled to remember the names of all the rulers, rebels and tribes but it's thrilling to once again be reminded of just how much human history there is.

Eye-opening aside, I did have issues with the way the book was written. It was often ambiguous as to where chapters sat
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A man walks into the desert to discover the legendary Timbuktu.

Visit the locations in the bookTimbuktu


I was lucky enough to chat to the author and he wrote a lovely piece on his travels - this is a very personal and unique read. I don't know many people who have been here and it seems like a unique choice so I wanted to read it, and chat to the author about it. So many stories in this tiny country!
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I suppose most any journey that puts one's life in peril can be called existential. Here's a brave soul, an Englishman, who did it. By bus, train, pickup truck, boat and donkey cart he traveled from Fez, Morocco, to Timbuktu in the Sahara desert. Despite his white skin he is accepted by the mostly Arabic populace, sometimes to great amusement on their part. He gamely swallows fetid food and dances with them. He'd visited Timbuktu earlier, but then came a jihad that terrorized the city. It was ba ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tiere-natur
After reading the last page, I felt like I've watched 5 minutes of a bad and boring documentation. The best pages of the book are the photo pages in the middle.
Too bad, but it turned out to be one of these books that catch you with a trendy and modern cover and then you have to realize: that's all.
May 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
The book just did not work for me. The people the author met seem to have been fascinating to him but they all blur together for me. Partly this is my fault since the foreign names blend together for me and at some point I just did not care enough to work on keeping them separate.
Kyle Moore
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought this a great book offering an rare insight into nomadic life in the dessert rarely seen by visitors.
Paulo Adalberto Reimann
Wanna Wander

The book is an invitation for a nice wandering in between several marvelous places. From Morroco to Mali. Even though knowingly dangerous , I am ready to go.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meine Meinung
Die Wüste fastziniert mich sehr, seit ich sie das erste Mal erleben, spüren und atmen durfte! Diese wundersamen Hügel aus Sand, die sich ständig wandeln, dir das Laufen erschweren und dich zu deinem inneren Kern bringen, da es dort nicht viel Ablenkung gibt. Umso gespannter war ich zu erfahren, was der Autor über die Wüste und seine Erlebnisse auf der Reise bis nach Timbuktu in Mali zu erzählen weiß. Welche Lektionen gibt uns die Wüste?

Wir erfahren von der schon kindlichen Faszinati
Dec 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I was a winner of this book on Goodreads. I like to travel a lot and like Mr. Jubber also drawn towards the desert. The pull is strong. I like the feeling of solitude that the desert brings, although it typically is not as lonely as one would think. This is a book of travels to Morocco, Mauritania, and Mali through some exotic lands and cities with names that roll off the tongue. He meets some really interesting people along the way, which is one of many of the benefits of travelling for sure. I ...more
James Miller
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like the author I have always felt that the ships of the desert and the journeys they make in caravans have a mystique; unlike him I don't have the balls to walk into Timbuktu as jihadists are seizing it and preparing to burn the historic manuscripts and impose shariah.

I certainly felt that I learned a great deal about the causes of strife in West Africa and the tensions between nomadic and sedentary peoples there. There was a clear sense of pursuing the footsteps of Leo Africanus and like him i
Ed Jenke
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Feb 24, 2021
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I'm a writer and traveller, with a passion for history and a pair of itchy feet. I'm fascinated by storytelling, nomadism, exploration and the connections (or misconnections!) between past and present.

I've written four books so far. My latest is Epic Continent, about some of Europe's iconic tales and my adventures amongst them.

Before that was The Timbuktu School for Nomads, about my experiences a

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